Was your girlfriend, partner, or wife raped?

Loving someone who was sexually abused or assaulted can be tricky. You love them more than anything in the world. But it can feel impossible to know how to show it.

You want to hold them, but it might trigger a panic attack. You want to understand, but they can’t seem to tell you what is going on. They don’t understand it themselves.

Many partners struggle with

  • Confusion
  • knowing how to build trust
  • frustration over sex
  • beginning to wear out from the ups and downs
  • walking on eggshells
  • feeling blamed
  • wanting to help, but not knowing how
  • never knowing what is going to set off the other person
  • feeling burdened by something that happened long ago that had nothing to do with you

It can be hard not to take things personally. It can feel lonely to be in a relationship with so many walls in place. You want to help, but just don’t know how.

So, okay. Your wife (girlfriend or partner) was raped or has a history of sexual abuse. And it’s affecting your relationship. Now what?

Yes, being in love with someone who was hurt can be difficult. The good news is this:  there are specific things you can do as a partner to help.

The first step is understanding how the rape or sexual abuse is affecting your partner and, therefore, your relationship. Do they have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Do they struggle with body image and self esteem?

Once you understand how trauma and PTSD or any of the other symptoms of a sexual trauma affect people, it can become much easier to understand exactly what is happening with your partner. So, when their mood shifts suddenly and they either go hot or cold super fast, you are better able to understand that it is not about you. No, you can’t heal them or be their therapist. But you can learn how to support their hard work in individual treatment.

If there is anything good about having PTSD, it is that it is highly treatable. It has patterns that are easy to recognize once you know what to look for. We believe arm our clients and their loved ones with the tools to recognize those patterns and know what to do.

How?

It is absolutely not your job as a partner to heal the other person. Your loved one will need specialized treatment that allows their brain, their body, and their hearts to heal. But as a partner and a support, you can be extremely helpful in supporting them along that journey.

 

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This happens in two steps:

  1. Understand how PTSD is impacting your partner (and that it is not your fault).
  2. Learn what helps both of you to settle down in the moment and practice using these skills.

You see, once your partner is triggered, it can be extremely hard for them in the moment to remember what to do to calm themselves. Everything in their brain and body is telling them they are in danger. They are in panic mode. This happens when something simply reminds them of the trauma.  So, in their bodies, they are in life or death mode even when, in reality, they are perfectly safe and you were just trying to give them a hug, for example.

Clearly, it would be easy to feel upset when you are just trying to give a hug and suddenly the other person is freaking out. But explaining you are not trying to hurt them when their body is telling them they are in danger won’t work. Instead, their bodies need to actually feel safe. Once that happens, their logical brains can click back on and they once again can understand the difference between you and whoever offended them.

Our clinicians work with couples to help you both understand the signs of a PTSD reaction. We teach concrete, simple steps that help your partner’s nervous system to settle back down. We basically teach you to coach them. The more they are able to calm themselves, the stronger they become. You feel empowered because you can finally do something that actually helps.

PTSD can wreck havoc on relationships. The good news is you can learn the skills to support yourself and your partner in healing. With increased understanding, most couples feel more connected and committed to each other. Conflict reduces. Sex can become easy and playful again. You can have the relationship you’ve always wanted.

Don’t continue to struggle alone. Our clinicians in Round Rock, Texas are here to help. Get started today.

 

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1101 Satellite View #501
Round Rock, TX 78665

hello@hopeforthejourney.org
512-400-4790

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